Sunday, November 9, 2008

Shannon Shane

It’s truly a shame to watch two gifted farceurs like Molly Shannon (the onetime Saturday Night Live stalwart) and John Michael Higgins (the hilarious character player from Christopher Guest’s movies) stuck in the slow drying cement of failed sitcom bravura that is Kath & Kim (NBC, Thursdays, 8:30). Adapted from an Australian TV hit and sandwiched into NBC’s high flying night of deadpan drollery (My Name is Earl, The Office, 30 Rock) it’s a lead-footed parody about suburban obliviousness with Shannon as a spandex wearing, stiff-upper-lip paragon of cluelessness head over heels in love with a corndog mall sandwich honcho (Higgins), all the while helicoptoring over her recently married and separated vacuum of a daughter Kim (Selma Blair). Blair’s idea of comic acting seems to be a series of blank expressions, dead fish line readings, and the random toss of her hair—she absolutely squashes any semblance of funny the show aims for, although the gifted Shannon and Higgins steer up a momentary yuck or two when they venture into some periodic physical shtick. Having not glimpsed even a minute of the Aussie prototype, I gotta figure this Americanized wrecking ball missed the joke entirely.

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